The search for the best chocolate chip cookie in Houston started as a simple taste test of a handful of chocolate chip cookies. Then I posted a photo on Instagram casually asking for other recommendations and received a mountain of them — which made me realize I couldn’t post an article about the search for the ultimate chocolate chip cookie in good faith without trying more of them. This resulted in a massive testing of cookies from 20 bakeries, restaurants and bars around Houston. If you’re at all up on your cookie game in Houston, the top two winners probably won’t surprise you — but the next eight might.
Each bakery, restaurant or bar was chosen if its cookies received a word-of-mouth nomination or special mention on Yelp or other press. Many places donated cookies to the event, and the tasting was performed by a group of 12 cookie lovers spanning the gamut from food writers to personal chefs to professional bakers to dieticians. Each cookie was randomly assigned a number and subsequently rated during a blind taste test for flavor — on a scale of 1-10 — and appearance, texture and chocolate on a scale of 1-5 for a total of 25 points. All points were added up for an overall score out of 300 points.
The scores for the top cookies were all fairly neck and neck — in other words, you should try them all. It’s also worth noting that this tasting demonstrated the immense range of chocolate chip cookies that Houston offers — from chewy to crisp to caramel-notes to mint-laced, there’s an ideal cookie for everyone. They were all really solid cookies, which is why the following recap only shows the rankings of the cookies that made it to the overall Top 10; all other cookies are categorized by flavor/texture preference since some of them, while still very good, proved to be more polarizing than others.
Top picks for cookie dough lovers
French Gourmet Bakery: Very soft and pale with a doughy texture, this is the type of cookie you could mindlessly eat five of because they're just pleasing and easy to keep tearing pieces off of. Excellent for lovers of cookie dough.
Tiff's Treats: These had a more homemade flavor than their cut-and-bake appearance would suggest — but then again, who can resist that crisp-edge, soft-centered cut-and-bake texture?
Smoosh: Excellent soft-baked texture, though commercial in flavor. Great when sandwiching ice cream, however.
NY Bagel: Grocery store look and texture, but for a cookie dough lover, this could be a plus. Some found this cookie strangely addicting.
Revival Market: Revival is an honorary addition to this category. It's not that the cookies are overly doughy, but that soft center and those golden-brown edges would sure make for a delicious new breed of cookie dough.
Siphon Coffee: While a bready texture in cookies can get a bad rap, it does provide a certain hearty satisfaction. There is absolutely no goo factor in this cookie — the slightly bready, slightly chewy texture is mostly uniform save for a slightly crisper exterior, with deeply browned coloring and a generous amount of flaky salt on top. Not too sweet, this is a great cookie for salty-sweet lovers.
Mongoose vs. Cobra: Studded with nuts and noticeably breadier than the rest with a scant amount of chocolate chips stuck on top, this cookie was a polarizing choice. Some loved the oat-y texture, some didn't.
Top picks for offbeat cookie lovers
Weights + Measures: This is one cookie that I believe got penalized for living off the beaten track of traditional chocolate chip cookies— it's a very flat, very golden cookie with crunchy edges and a bendy, chewy middle. The deeply caramelized flavor is immensely addictive.
Pondicheri: A unicorn among horses, this thick and hearty cookie was studded with mint, oats and coconut — in other words, not your traditional chocolate chip cookie. Most people enjoyed this not-too-sweet cookie, though in rankings it couldn't stand up to the more traditional gooey-textured versions. It's regular craving-worthy for those who love interesting textures and pops of unique flavor.
Petite Sweets: The only cookie I couldn't get behind, it had one of the most unique appearances — very pale and studded with tiny dalmation-like chocolate chips. While both flavor and texture were lacking, I've had other delicious treats from this spot — Petite Sweets is worth a visit for its cake balls alone!
Top 10 Chocolate Chip Cookies in Houston
10. Tout Suite: With crisp edges and a soft center, this cookie was a textural delight, if slightly lacking in chocolate. High ratings for overall flavor.
9. Fluff Bake Bar: A more manageable size compared to many and with a slightly pale complexion, this cookie stood out for its slightly sandy texture and excellent balance of salt and sweet for great overall flavor.
8. Ooh La La: With a slightly firmer and fairly uniform texture (though excellently browned edges), this cookie presented a relatively scant amount of chocolate in an appealing golden-brown dough; it still proved extremely addictive.
7. The Chocolate Bar: With the same dough used at The Dessert Gallery and Luna Pizzeria, this cookie was rated highly for the excellent chocolate quality and a generous marbling of chocolate throughout the dough that made for an almost fudgy texture. It was simultaneously soft but not chewy, with great flavor. Though it lacked crisp edges, it was still a very good cookie with an excellent level of salt.
6. Barnaby's: Deeply browned with great chew, crisp edges and beautiful ripples of chocolate throughout the cookie. The only complaint from some was that it was just a hair sweeter than necessary.
5. Red Dessert Dive: Massive, salted chocolate chip cookies at their best. This is a thicker cookie with a sturdier texture than those at brown bag or Michael's Cookie Jar, but still deeply flavorful with perfectly crisp edges and a delightfully salty top.
4. Brown Bag Deli: On the thinner side, this deeply brown cookie had a very soft texture that lent itself to excellent melty chocolate distribution. Exceptionally pleasing in texture with a great balance of sweet, salt and vanilla with a LOT of chocolate.
3. Michael's Cookie Jar: The only cookie to use chocolate chunks instead of chips, this one was perfectly bronzed on the edges and soft in the middle with a tender vanilla-scented dough that complemented the chunks well.
2. Common Bond: This was nearly a meal-size cookie, and the thick, crisp-edged, slightly gooey-centered and verging-on-cakey texture set it apart. The beautiful, bronze-edged ripples of dough made this cookie the ultimate winner for appearances, though tragically, the flavor lacked the depth of complexity that Tiny Boxwood's possesses.
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1. Tiny Boxwood's: Even through the blind tasting, Tiny Boxwood's popular contender shone above the rest with the classic buttery and brown-sugar-laced flavor of this superbly executed cookie. Humble and almost homely in its wrinkly appearance, but universally adored for its soft, chewy-edged texture and rich flavor. Just get one immediately.
As a texture person who prefers cakiness over intensely gooey cookies and has a preference for salty-sweet and a non-excessive chocolate-to-dough ratio, my personal Top 10 actually included a two-way tie for first place between Common Bond and Siphon with 24 out of 25 possible points; a three-way tie for second place between Tiny Boxwood's, Michael’s Cookie Jar and Barnaby’s with 23 points; a three-way tie for third between Red Dessert Dive, Tout Suite and The Chocolate Bar with 21 points; and a two-way tie for fourth between Ooh La La and Brown Bag Deli with 20 points.
Clearly, the cookies were all neck in neck in my book. I highly recommend that you put discovering your own personal favorite chocolate chip cookie in Houston on your fall bucket list. If you think we missed a place, let us know in the comments!